A week in the life of a scientist, artist, plantsman, wit, raconteur and wannabe gigolo

Conscious that I have not blogged much in the last couple of weeks, I was thinking I might keep a record of my week, including what I get up to at work. So, beginning with Saturday:


Saturday morning saw my first visit to the garden in daylight for a week and I took some photos of new things in flower:

Leontice minor

Saturday afternoon I spent drawing a strawberry for a project with Dominique and Lisa, from another of Dominique’s myriad creative ideas, and listening to a very eclectic selection of music:


I hate Sundays. Always did. Unlike Fridays and Saturdays where the weekend is still to look forward to; Sundays are the joy sucking day when one has to mentally prepare oneself for work, and previously school. Neither prospect ever filled me with excitement. Anyway, this Sunday we went to the Orchid weekend at our local garden centre. I had a good gossip with the people from Burnham Orchids, bought some plants and visited the guy who had brought some tame-ish owls along.

Then after lunch it was back to the strawberry to add more layers:


Yep, back to the day job. I was supposed to start using a new method to analyse earthworms for pesticide residues but discovered that the instrument manufacturers had made an error when setting the instrument up before the holidays. Those peaks on the screen are not supposed to be there….

Every break time on Monday and Tuesday was spent getting ready for our collaborative blog post on Wednesday. Monday evening was spent writing emails and the blog post.


The day began with repeated attempts to work out what the hell was going on with the above instrument. Not much progress was made. Poor Dominique also got in touch and was having a frustrating time with the collages for her blog post. Then I got home and Susan had a headache and went to bed early. Not a good day. At least my workout at the gym was good. Whilst sad, Susan’s early night gave me chance to unwind with a movie. My movie choices have become increasingly French recently.

Image result for nikita poster


Switching off with a movie last night was obviously just what my old brain needed. I woke up with a hunch about the instrument problem. So I actually went to work quite excited to see if I was right. I was!

So with that problem solved I had a much cheerier morning. Lunchtime I posted my ‘When Fashion and Nature Collide‘ post and read Dominique and Lisa’s posts. (We do not have prior sight of each other’s words, just the theme and the pictures).

In the evening Susan told me that her boss Tom, Molly’s owner, has a Youtube channel and that the Hairy Hooligan photobombs some of the videos. She turns up at about 4:30 in this one:


This was a busy day! I went to the lab to do some sample preparation – mashing up earthworms.

Then in the afternoon I wore my QA manager hat and I had to try to track down our director to get some signatures on all these quality policy documents that I have spent much of the last two months revising:

Then one of my colleagues had an issue with our lab database and it took through until early Friday to track down the issue to some wonky code in a subroutine which thankfully was easy to fix. (Yes – Database Manager hat – my third hat of the day)

In the evening I was due to go to a lecture in the city. as I usually do on third Thursdays. Also traditional is my meal beforehabd at WibblyWobbly, the campus burger bar, which has a great range of vegetarian options and the best fries in town. Oh – and there was a local beer involved too…

WibWobs spicy bean burger with the aptly named Insanity Sauce!

Even the owners were impressed I could eat that much insanity sauce without spontaneously combusting.

Then I went off to the meeting hall for the lecture. I got there early as I have the keys. After putting out the screen etc I had a few minutes to play with the lego and sticklebricks in the pre-schoolers corner before Susan arrived to tell me to grow up.

By this time I was really starting to notice that the caretaker had failed to put the heating on. It was only 8C and by the end of the lecture I had been sitting in there (with my jacket and gloves on) for 3 hours…

The lecture was good though. The Dolomites is where I took the gentian photo on Wednesday’s post and we had used many of the same walking trails. Prof John Richards is a professor of botany at Uni of Newcastle and I have encountered him in my professional life as well as in his capacity as a leading expert of Alpine gardening. He wrote THE book on Primula.


I am still cold from last night!

Today I am in proper lab geek mode:

Some old bloke in a lab

My mission for today was to repair a fault and clean this thing:

Below my pay grade now really but I still enjoy taking apart very expensive pieces of lab kit and hoping it all works again afterwards!

Then it was back to the QA Manager hat again in the office to send off some paperwork to the UK Accreditation Service.

This evening was another gym night. Playing fetch with the gym doggie has become part of the ritual. Here is a pic from last week:

Then I don’t need to tell some of you that friday night is pizza night!


    1. Hi Luda, I am technically an Environmental Chemist, though my degree is in biology. Currently I am working in organic chemistry (pesticides etc) but have previously worked in trace metals, nutrients and stable isotopes. My biggest claim to fame is that I was a co-author on a Nature paper that contributed to the UK government finally agreeing to restrict bee-killing neonicotinoid pesticides. When not in the lab I am also QA manager for all the labs in my building, and database administrator. Who says men can’t multi-taskπŸ˜ŠπŸ˜‰

      Liked by 3 people

        1. Thank you. What can’t I do? Switch off apparently! I am also rubbish at saying ‘no’. Which is why I end up doing so many different things. I also learned to play guitar and am a pretty decent archer, though both are on a temporary hiatus as I have run out of hours in the day. It sounds very versatile and almost like I am showing off but to tell the truth, for many years there was a void in my life and I kept taking on new things in the hope that one day I might feel fulfilled by one of them. This blog and my friends on WP have helped fill the void over the last 18 months and I am a much happier person. If I chase new experiences now it is due to interest and excitement, not desperation.πŸ˜„. You have a great weekend too😍

          Liked by 2 people

          1. Arty, you sound as a well rounded and multifauceted human being. Must be fun to be you and yes, learning to say no is one of the most monumental skills anyone can learn-this was my lesson as well til recent years…I understand that concept very well.

            Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you😊. I am pleased with how the strawberry is developing (ripening😊?). The mashed worm is only one of the delightful materials I have analysed over the years. Last year’s highlight was seagull vomit!

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Wow! You had a very busy week Darren. I knew that already but it was fun to follow you through the tasks and to get a better idea of all the different hats you wear. Mashing up earthworms? This made me smile. Thankfully, there are also beautiful flowers in your life. Love, love, love the strawberry drawing and the picture of the owl. I also think you should do more posts like this one. I really enjoy reading you. Enjoy the pizza tonight and have a lovely weekend. xoxo

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thank you my friend. We have indeed talked a lot this week so you already knew what I have been doing! I did not mention the high point of today in my blog post – for now it is just our secretπŸ˜‰. So leased you like the strawberry – it was your idea so I want you to like it😊😍. Pizza was great. You have a lovely weekend too!

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I love the strawberry! It is gorgeous already and I can easily picture it done with the rest of the design… I can’t wait to see Lisa’s project as well. You two are so inspiring. I won’t say anything but please hurry up because I can’t wait to tell Lisa and the others. 😊 Enjoy your weekend dear friend!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I absolutely love that you shared your week with us. I find your job quite interesting and I am quite intrigued to learn more. The strawberry πŸ’—πŸ’—πŸ’—πŸ’—πŸ’—, its going to be fantastic my friend. Im so happy pizza was good! I hope Do and I can share pizza night with you soon. Have a beautiful weekend!!

    Liked by 3 people

  3. I really enjoyed this post and all the interesting detail, which really brought to life your week. This part was hilarious: “I had a few minutes to play with the lego and sticklebricks in the pre-schoolers corner before Susan arrived to tell me to grow up.” and the strawberry is divine. Sooo talented my friend πŸ™‚

    Liked by 3 people

  4. Ahhh, great to read about your week! Seeing Portishead and that QOTSA album for some reason sent me looking for Goldfrapp on Spotify – now I’m very relaxed haha. Hope to see more posts like this when you fancy it! πŸ™‚ Hope you’re doing alright. x

    Liked by 2 people

  5. This is a great post, my friend. The highs and lows of a very interesting life. As for this secret you have…humph! I want you to know that Dominique and I had a long phone conversation and as much as it was killing her, she kept the secret!! Now it’s killing me! Haha! That strawberry is wonderful. I can’t wait to see the finished work. Perfect for next month! πŸ™‚ πŸ€—β€οΈπŸ€—β€οΈπŸ€—

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you LindaπŸ˜„. You spoke to Dominique? That is lovely! As for the ‘secret’, hopefully tomorrow all will become clearπŸ˜‰πŸ˜„.

      The strawberry is going well, thank you. Now I am working on a half-strawberry next to it. πŸ˜„β€

      Liked by 2 people

  6. Mashing up earthworms sounds like something Ron had to do in Herbology class as punishment. πŸ˜‰
    And what a week you had! I’m dizzy from just reading about it!! Those owls are so cute, I’m astonished they weren’t sleeping. And the strawberry is just awesome – now I really want to eat some!!πŸ˜‚
    And music for the deaf?? LOL! Can’t say that I’ve heard of it before. πŸ˜‰πŸ˜‰
    And who doesn’t turn instantly into a 3 year-old when Lego is around?! I still love it. 😊

    Liked by 1 person

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